Now is the Time for a Black Graphic Design
So, there've been some Black folks in the news lately. Most of it’s been bad news. Bad news, as it is wont to do, gives way to folks trying to make sense of it; from that sense, we occasionally manage a response. Occasionally, that response manages to gain a little traction, resonating with the feelings of others. Every once in a while, a response, a shout from the depths of our souls manages to break out of orbit and connect with the feelings of the public at large.
It seems pedantic to quibble about the font and typesetting of a man’s last words, which have now become the succinct encapsulation of race relations in the United States.
But when you consider just how impactful
has been in Black history,
these stakes hardly seem penny-ante.
And it’s not like there’re no Black graphic designers. But the numbers are pretty dismal. Per accepted estimates, 86% of designers, graphic and otherwise, are Caucasian. As RevisionPath.com mentions in their coverage of the nacent AIGA Diversity and Inclusion task force, this number is nearly unchanged since the early 1990s, even as the country on the whole races towards becoming minority-majority.
Now, I'm not trying to shame people, or dissuade anyone from the work that the American Institute of Graphic Arts is doing, and shouts out to Maurice Cherry for his efforts in profiling the working professionals of the moment, but I know in my heart that more is needed.
Designers know design is powerful.
The shape of things, well, shapes things.
Sure, part of this is selfish.
I'm Black, I'm a designer, and I like to work (hence the name). But more than that, I'd like to hone my skills — skills that have been rejected more often than not by the good-old-boy firms here in Philly — and use them
with others to artfully, even, god-forbid, elegantly disseminate the reality
of the Black experience which, for better or worse, is having its moment
in the sun.
Black psychologists, women historians, attorneys, engineers, journalists, nurses and farmers have, over time and under various circumstances, recognized the importance of coming together and supporting one another in the face of industries that are, at best, wholly indifferent to their success and often actively discourage it.
If Black data processing associates have organized to support one another, why can't we?
Or maybe the better question is,
who’s going to stop us?